Two years ago, Lea Michele's world came crashing down.
In July 2013, the actress lost Cory Monteith, her Glee co-star and boyfriend of two years, when he died of a lethal mix of heroin and alcohol. With the help of her colleagues and friends like Kate Hudson, she slowly began to pick up the pieces. Since 2014, the Scream Queens star, 28, has been dating Matthew Paetz, 30.
Though she will always love Monteith, how did Michele know she was ready to find love again? "I wanted to make sure that I was OK with me, feeling strong and feeling happy on my own. I didn't want anybody to fill any holes for me—that sounds sexual! I wanted to make sure that I was a whole person again and that no one was coming into my life to put me back together. I needed to do that on my own," the actress explains in FLARE magazine's October issue. "I worked very, very, very hard and I got back to that place where I was genuinely happy and strong and ready to live again and see the world and, you know, bring in more beautiful experiences. And that's when someone miraculously came into my life."
Michele doesn't say much else about Paetz.
She does, however, have plenty to say about Ryan Murphy's Scream Queens. Michele has become close to her co-star Emma Roberts, and she revels in the show's female camaraderie. "I think that the feminist message in Scream Queens is that girls are f--king badass. Ryan was saying the show is totally girl power. It's mainly a female cast, all of whom are incredibly talented, strong and successful women. But also, think of any scary movie: it's not the strong man that survives in the end; it's the girl," she says. "Girls are so much stronger than they know, and especially more than society makes them believe they are."
The same could be said of Michele in real life. In addition to her acting and music careers, she is about to publish a self-help book aimed at women, titled You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life. "I'm so proud of my success. I'm really proud of the life I've built and created for myself. I've kept my head on my shoulders to get to where I am," she tells the publication. "You're always going to run into critics. The only people I care about are the people that are close to me. It's a tough business, it's a tough town, and you really have to have a thick skin. I'm constantly learning, but I'm really proud of where I am."
Suffice it to say, it's a good time to be Michele.
In fact, the actress' 29th birthday is coming up on Aug. 29.
"Hey, it's my golden year," she tells FLARE. "It's gonna be great, no matter what."
Watch Michele tell E! News what makes a relationship work below:
The full story is available on FLARE.com now.
The issue will be available on Next Issue Sept. 1 and on newsstands Sept. 14.